Despite the fact that a business’s data is possibly its best asset to propel growth, many aren’t leveraging their data to its full potential, much less maintaining it to ensure its accuracy.
Validity’s State of CRM Data Management Report found that inaccurate data is responsible for an estimated loss of between 5% and 20% of annual revenue for 44% of businesses. And Zoominfo says that inaccurate data wastes 27.3% of sales reps’ time — that’s 546 hours per rep, per year.
Try thinking about it this way — every time a sales rep dials an incorrect number, emails an outdated account, or pursues a lead that is already dead, it costs the business time and money – resources that could be much better spent pursuing and converting new leads and opportunities, with the guidance of good quality data.
According to Validity’s report, while most businesses (92%) understand that clean data helps companies meet revenue objectives, almost half (45%) admit their data isn’t that great quality. Therefore, it’s no wonder that only 35% are satisfied to very satisfied with their lead-to-customer conversion rates. And sadly, this figure drops to only 15% for companies reporting poor data quality.
We know that sales productivity and a business’ success go hand in hand, yet we often fail to realise (or conveniently ignore) the fact that sales productivity and data quality are also intrinsically linked.
So, if you’re a business wanting to better leverage your data to enhance sales productivity, here are three steps to take as a priority:
Bring all your data together
Data lives in a wide variety of places including your website, analysis tools like Google Analytics, in your emails and your e-commerce platform. In fact, an interesting finding from the DMA and Validity’s Consumer Email Tracker 2021 was that people like using their email inbox as an informal database, citing that it’s convenient and easy to search for what they need as factors.
It’s best practice though to bring all of your data together in one central location to assess what information you have and to gain a more complete picture of your business. While this certainly isn’t a quick task – it is well and truly worth the investment.
Bringing all of your data together will give you an in-depth look into your sales cycle and help you to make more informed and strategic decisions moving forward. You’ll be able to see where your leads have come from in the past, which have converted, which haven’t, how long it usually takes to convert a lead, and the customer retention rate thereafter.
Ongoing, you need to build data collection into your daily operations to collect as much relevant information as possible. While it can be easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data available, start by identifying 10 to 20 of the most important and relevant fields, and consistently populate and update these with accurate data.
What this looks like in practice could include ensuring salespeople obtain an email address and mobile number for every person they interact with, checking existing customers’ contact details each time they make a purchase, or asking subscribers their preferences when they sign up. Given the current climate with more people working from home and lots of people changing jobs, it has become even more crucial to employ this type of initiative and go beyond just asking for an email address, but also a direct phone number so your contact can be easily reached.
Prioritise Data Hygiene
It’s one thing to have lots of data, but it’s equally important that this data is ‘clean’ or good quality. For this reason, ensure your business’s data quality is not a set and forget task. It must be given adequate time and resources ongoing and managed consistently. Common data quality issues include duplicate data, incorrect data, invalid data, incomplete or inconsistent data, or poorly defined data (which means that data is sectioned in the wrong category).
To address this, you must first look at how data enters the system initially. This means educating all employees that interact with the data management system on how to correctly input and manage data, as well as establishing protocols for keeping data complete and accurate. Good data hygiene requires investment and accountability from representatives across all departments in the organisation — from sales, marketing, IT, and finance, to tech support and product development — or indeed any department that contributes to the organisation’s data.
Data hygiene practices should be automated wherever possible to save time and resources. There are a number of third-party software that can make data hygiene as easy as possible to keep on top of, including Demand Tools which can automatically identify and remove duplicate data, or BriteVerify which ensures all email addresses are accurate and up to date before you hit send.
Fuel your CRM
According to Validity Inc’s State of CRM Data Management Report, 86% of participants said that their CRM system is important or very important to achieving revenue objectives. However, you can only extract the full value of your CRM if it’s working with accurate and complete data. Despite this, less than one-quarter of study participants report CRM data accuracy and completeness at greater than 80%.
The same report found that lead-to-customer conversion rates and CRM data quality are undeniably correlated, and those who have good to very good CRM data quality are far more likely to achieve satisfactory conversion rates.
This is because when you fuel a CRM system with good quality data, it allows you to efficiently collect, collate, tabulate, organise, interpret and leverage your data to improve and speed up the sales cycle. How much do you know about your targets? What do they like? What do they care about? Have they had any previous interactions with your business? The more accurate understanding you have about your target, the better you’re able to serve them, and the more likely you are to convert them from a lead.
If your CRM is powered by poor quality data, these insights won’t be accurate or useful, ensuring your sales cycle remains as it is.
Businesses often incorrectly assume that sophisticated data management is too costly and time consuming to pursue, when in reality doing nothing about your data it is costing you much more. By prioritising data quality, you can give your sales team an incredible advantage as they know where to focus their efforts and what will resonate with leads, leaving them to do what do best — sell.